Tim Meathrel 6.30pm 17th February 2013

St John’s Small Group Study Notes

From Tim’s sermon on February 17th 2013

Passage: Genesis 18:1-15

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Study:

God appears to Abraham in the visit of these three men/angels (some think that it might be the Trinity and others a pre-incarnation Jesus). The responses of Abraham and Sarah have much to teach us today.

Abraham’s Response

When Abraham see these men he ran out to meet them and bows down before them. As Abraham intercepts these strangers he says, “if I have found favour in your eyes, my lord, do not pass your servant by.’ Then goes on to offer hospitality in the form of foot washing, rest under the tree and provides a lavish feast. Whilst they ate and drank Abraham stood by them taking upon himself the position of a servant.

What can we learn from Abraham’s response?

Hunger – Don’t miss an opportunity to pursue God

I can’t help but wonder if Abraham had some sense that something was going to happen that day and that God would meet with him that day which would explain his running to detain these visitors and then his reverence for them. Abraham saw these three strangers and I think that there must have seen something different about them, something which caused him to chase after them, to make then stop and meet with him. I think it must have been that he knew God was in the visit of these three men.

The response of a person of faith is to pursue God and is not to miss an opportunity to chase after God, to meet with God and to encounter God.

Q. How hungry are you for God? What does it mean to pursue more of God in your day to day life?

We read that Abraham was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day – there was a good reason that he was sitting, it was too hot to work. So when he rushes to meet these men he does so even though it was at the most uncomfortable and inconvenient time of the day. The answer to the question how hungry are we for God often depends on how convenient it is for us (can we fit God into our already packed and demanding schedule?) or how comfortable it is for us (bit tired to go to church this week etc!). The danger that we all face (which flows from the enemies lies) is to make our relationship with God an add to life on instead of being the central activity of our life.

Q. How do comfort and convenience hold you back from pursuing more of God? How can we grow in our hunger for God?

Hospitality – Don’t miss an opportunity to show hospitality

Abraham shows incredible hospitality to these men. Meals and hospitality are a massively important theme in scripture. Firstly, culturally – biblical story unfolds against the backdrop of the famous hospitality of the middle east. Secondly, theologically – hospitality and meals are symbolic of our relationship with God (eg. Rev 3:20) So this passage alerts us to the importance of hospitality not just in scripture but in our lives too. Other eg Heb 13:2

Easy to underestimate certain spiritual gifts eg administration, giving, hospitality and to see others eg prophecy, miracles, healing as more important!

Q. What do you think the gift of hospitality is? Can you think of any people that you know who have this gift? What impact does the exercising of this spiritual gift have on others?

Spiritual gift of hospitality and those with the gift of hospitality: create community; create space for people to belong; space for people to find their identity and destiny; creates space for people to find healing – hospitality is linked to the healing ministry – exercising this spiritual gift is a form of the healing ministry; brings about emotional, spiritual and physical healing in lives as people are met with love, compassion, care and acceptance; brings about blessing.

Sarah’s Response

In the context of the meal the visitors ask Abraham where Sarah is. Then a promise is given. The man promises that he will return in a year and declares that by that time Sarah will have a son. Sarah was eavesdropping on this conversation, no doubt having been there ever since finishing her cooking listening into the conversation.

Sarah’s response to these words was to laugh, to laugh because this was clearly impossible as she says they were both very old and she was beyond the age when she could have had children.  But she wasn’t the only one who laughed when told this news (Read Gen 17:17-19) and yet God’s response to Abraham and Sarah is quite different. God deals gently with Abraham and reasserting the promise but with Sarah God draws attention to her laughter and rebukes her for her laughter.

Q. Why do you think God deals differently with the laughter of Abraham and Sarah?

Abraham’s laughter clearly came from a heart of faith whereas Sarah’s came from a heart of unbelief as her thoughts reveal. At this point it’s interesting to speculate on whether or not Abraham had told her about the promise before this point. If Sarah had known all about the promise, she clearly hadn’t the faith to receive the promise and take hold of that promise for herself. The man then provides a very simple and memorable rebuke from the Lord to Sarah’s lack of faith in words which have become some of the most famous in all of scripture, ‘Is anything too hard for the Lord?’

Interestingly Sarah is given no opportunity to respond yet. All questions are address to Abraham until v15 where Sarah is finally addressed and she lies about having laughed but there she makes no response to the promise. So as readers we are left with the question what will her response be? Will she continue in unbelief or learn from this rebuke and come into a place of faith?

Hindsight is a wonderful thing and Heb 11:11 tells us what choice she must have made: “And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise.”

Q. Are you struggling to believe in the face of the impossible/seemingly impossible? Are you struggling to hold onto the promises of God for you – both those revealed in scripture but also those more personal and specific promises? How can you, as David did, strengthen yourself in the Lord? How can you support and strengthen each other to grow in faith and belief?

26th Feb 2013 Posted in: News, Sermon Notes by Fran Varley 0

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